The Public Orations of Demosthenes/Philippic II

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77560The Public Orations of Demosthenes — Philippic IIArthur Wallace PickardDemosthenes



After settling affairs at Delphi in 346, Philip returned to Macedonia. During a considerable part of 345 and in the early months of 344 he was occupied with campaigns against the Illyrians, Dardani, and Triballi. But in the summer (probably) of 344 he resumed his activities in Greece, garrisoning Pherae and other towns of Thessaly with Macedonians, appropriating the revenues derived from the Thessalian ports, and establishing oligarchical governments throughout the country. At the same time negotiations were going on between himself and Athens with regard to the Thracian strongholds which he had captured in 346. He refused to give these up, though he offered to cut a canal across the Chersonese, for the protection of the Athenian allies there from the attacks of the Thracians. He also sent money and mercenaries to help the Messenians and Argives, who, like the Megalopolitans, were anxious to secure their independence of Sparta. Athens, which was on friendly terms with Sparta, sent envoys to the Peloponnesian states to counteract Philip's influence, and of these Demosthenes was one. In return, Argos and Messene complained to Athens of her interference with their attempt to secure freedom, and Philip sent envoys to deprecate the charges made against him by the Athenian ambassadors in the Peloponnese. He pointed out that he had not broken any promises made to Athens at the time of the Peace, for he had made none. (In fact, if Demosthenes' account is correct, he had confined himself to vague expressions of goodwill; the promises had been made by Aeschines.) The Second Philippic, spoken late in 344, proposes a reply to Philip, the text of which has unfortunately not come down to us. The Peloponnesian envoys appear also to have been in Athens at the time; and Philip's supporters had put forward various explanations of his conduct at the time when the Peace was made. To these also Demosthenes replies.]



1 In all our discussions, men of Athens, with regard to the acts of violence by which Philip contravenes the terms of the Peace, I observe that, although the speeches on our side are always manifestly just and sympathetic,[1] and although those who denounce Philip are always regarded as saying what ought to be said, yet practically nothing is done which ought to be done, or which would make it worth while to listen to such speeches. 2 On the contrary, the condition of public affairs as a whole has already been brought to a point at which, the more and the more evidently a speaker can convict Philip both of transgressing the Peace which he made with you and of plotting against all the Hellenes, the harder it is for him to advise you how you should act. 3 The responsibility for this rests with us all, men of Athens. It is by deeds and actions, not by words, that a policy of encroachment must be arrested: and yet, in the first place, we who rise to address you will not face the duty of proposing or advising such action, for fear of unpopularity with you, though we dilate upon the character of Philip's acts, upon their atrocity, and so forth; and, in the second place, you who sit and listen, better qualified though you doubtless are than Philip for using the language of justice and appreciating it at the mouths of others, are nevertheless absolutely inert, when it is a question of preventing him from executing the designs in which he is now engaged. 4 It follows as the inevitable and perhaps reasonable consequence, that you are each more successful in that to which your time and your interest is given—he in actions, yourselves in words. Now if it is still enough for you, that your words are more just than his, your course is easy, and no labour is involved in it. 5 But if we are to inquire how the evil of the present situation is to be corrected; if its advance is not still to continue, unperceived, until we are confronted by a power so great that we cannot even raise a hand in our own defence; then we must alter our method of deliberation, and all of us who speak, and all of you who listen, must resolve to prefer the counsels which are best, and which can save us, to those which are most easy and most attractive.

6 I am amazed, men of Athens, in the first place, that any one who sees the present greatness of Philip and the wide mastery which he has gained, can be free from alarm, or can imagine that this involves no peril to Athens, or that it is not against you that all his preparations are being made. And I would beg you, one and all, to listen while I put before you in a few words the reasoning by which I have come to entertain the opposite expectation, and the grounds upon which I regard Philip as an enemy; that so, if my own foresight appears to you the truer, you may believe me; but if that of the persons who have no fears and have placed their trust in him, you may give your adhesion to them. 7 Here then, men of Athens, is my argument. Of what, in the first place, did Philip become master, when the Peace was concluded? Of Thermopylae, and of the situation in Phocis. Next, what use did he make of his power? He deliberately chose to act in the interests of Thebes, not in those of Athens. And why? He scrutinized every consideration in the light of his own ambition and of his desire for universal conquest: he took no thought for peace, or tranquillity, or justice; 8 and he saw quite correctly that our state and our national character being what they are, there was no attraction that he could offer, nothing that he could do, which would induce you to sacrifice any of the other Hellenes to him for your own advantage. He saw that you would take account of what was right; that you would shrink from the infamy attaching to such a policy; that you would exercise all the foresight which the situation demanded, and would oppose any such attempt on his part, as surely as if you were at open war with him. 9 But the Thebans, he believed—and the event proved that he was right—in return for what they were getting would let him do as he pleased in all that did not concern them; and far from acting against him, or preventing him effectively, would even join him in his campaign, if he bade them. His services to the Messenians and the Argives at the present moment are due to his having formed the same conception of them. And this, men of Athens, is the highest of all tributes to yourselves: 10 for these actions of his amount to a verdict upon you, that you alone of all peoples would never, for any gain to yourselves, sacrifice the common rights of the Hellenes, nor barter away your loyalty to them for any favour or benefit at his hands. This conception of you he has naturally formed, just as he has formed the opposite conception of the Argives and the Thebans, not only from his observation of the present, but also from his consideration of the past. 11 He discovers, I imagine, and is told, how when your forefathers might have been rulers of the rest of the Hellenes, on condition of submitting to the king themselves, they not only refused to tolerate the suggestion, on the occasion when Alexander [2], the ancestor of the present royal house, came as his herald to negotiate, but chose rather to leave their country and to face any suffering which they might have to endure; and how they followed up the refusal by those deeds which all are so eager to tell, but to which no one has ever been able to do justice; and for that reason, I shall myself forbear to speak of them, and rightly; for the grandeur of their achievements passes the power of language to describe. He knows, on the other hand, how the forefathers of the Thebans and Argives, in the one case, joined the barbarian army, in the other, offered no resistance to it. 12 He knows, therefore, that both these peoples will welcome what is to their own advantage, instead of considering the common interests of the Hellenes: and so he thought that, if he chose you for his allies, he would be choosing friends who would only serve a righteous cause; while if he joined himself to them, he would win accomplices who would further his own ambitions. That is why he chose them, as he chooses them now, in preference to you. For he certainly does not see them in possession of more ships than you; nor has he discovered some inland empire, and withdrawn from the seaboard and the trading-ports; nor does he forget the words and the promises, on the strength of which he was granted the Peace.

13 But some one may tell us, with an air of complete knowledge of the matter, that what then moved Philip to act thus was not his ambition nor any of the motives which I impute to him, but his belief that the demands of Thebes were more righteous than your own. I reply, that this statement, above all others, is one which he cannot possibly make now. How can one who is ordering Sparta to give up Messene put forward his belief in the righteousness of the act, as his excuse for handing over Orchomenus and Coroneia to Thebes?

14 'But,' we are told (as the last remaining plea), 'he was forced to make these concessions, and did so against his better judgement, finding himself caught between the cavalry of Thessaly and the infantry of Thebes.' Admirable! And so, we are informed, he intends henceforth to be wary of the Thebans, and the tale goes round that he intends to fortify Elateia [3]. 'Intends,' indeed! and I expect that it will remain an intention! 15 But the help which he is giving to the Messenians and Argives is no 'intention'; for he is actually sending mercenaries to them and dispatching funds, and is himself expected to arrive on the spot with a great force. Is he trying to annihilate the Spartans, the existing enemies of Thebes, and at the same time protecting the Phocians, whom he himself has ruined? Who will believe such a tale? 16 For if Philip had really acted against his will and under compulsion in the first instance—if he were now really intending to renounce the Thebans—I cannot believe that he would be so consistently opposing their enemies. On the contrary, his present course plainly proves that his former action also was the result of deliberate policy; and to any sound observation, it is plain that the whole of his plans are being organized for one end—the destruction of Athens. 17 Indeed, this has now come to be, in a sense, a matter of necessity for him. Only consider. It is empire that he desires, and you, as he believes, are his only possible rivals in this. He has been acting wrongfully towards you for a long time, as he himself best knows; for it is the occupation of your possessions that enables him to hold all his other conquests securely, convinced, as he is, that if he had let Amphipolis and Poteidaea go, he could not dwell in safety even at home. 18 These two facts, then, he well knows—first, that his designs are aimed at you, and secondly, that you are aware of it: and as he conceives you to be men of sense, he considers that you hold him in righteous detestation: and, in consequence, his energies are roused: for he expects to suffer disaster, if you get your opportunity, unless he can anticipate you by inflicting it upon you. 19 So he is wide awake; he is on the alert; he is courting the help of others against Athens—of the Thebans and those Peloponnesians who sympathize with their wishes; thinking that their desire of gain will make them embrace the immediate prospect, while their native stupidity will prevent them from foreseeing any of the consequences. Yet there are examples, plainly visible to minds which are even moderately well-balanced[4]—examples which it fell to my lot to bring before Messenian and Argive audiences, but which had better, perhaps, be laid before yourselves as well.

20 'Can you not imagine,' I said, 'men of Messenia, the impatience with which the Olynthians used to listen to any speeches directed against Philip in those times, when he was giving up Anthemus to them—a city claimed as their own by all former Macedonian kings; when he was expelling the Athenian colonists from Poteidaea and presenting it to the Olynthians; when he had taken upon his own shoulders their quarrel with Athens, and given them the enjoyment of that territory? Did they expect, do you think, to suffer as they have done? if any one had foretold it, would they have believed him? 21 And yet,' I continued, 'after enjoying territory not their own for a very short time, they are robbed of their own by him for a great while to come; they are foully driven forth—not conquered merely, but betrayed by one another and sold; for it is not safe for a free state to be on these over-friendly terms with a tyrant. 22 What, again, of the Thessalians? Do you imagine,' I asked, 'that when he was expelling their tyrants, or again, when he was giving them Nicaea and Magnesia, they expected to see the present Council of Ten[5] established in their midst? Did they expect that the restorer of their Amphictyonic rights would take their own revenues from them for himself? Impossible! And yet these things came to pass, as all men may know. 23 You yourselves,' I continued, 'at present behold only the gifts and the promises of Philip. Pray, if you are really in your right minds, that you may never see the accomplishment of his deceit and treachery. There are, as you know well,' I said, 'all kinds of inventions designed for the protection and security of cities—palisades, walls, trenches, and every kind of defence. 24 All these are made with hands, and involve expense as well. But there is one safeguard which all sensible men possess by nature—a safeguard which is a valuable protection to all, but above all to a democracy against a tyrant. And what is this? It is distrust. Guard this possession and cleave to it; preserve this, and you need never fear disaster. 25 What is it that you desire?' I said. 'Is it freedom? And do you not see that the very titles that Philip bears are utterly alien to freedom? For a king, a tyrant, is always the foe of freedom and the enemy of law. Will you not be on your guard,' I said, 'lest in striving to be rid of war, you find yourselves slaves?'[6]

26 My audience heard these words and received them with a tumult of approbation, as well as many other speeches from the envoys, both when I was present and again later. And yet, it seems, there is still no better prospect of their keeping Philip's friendship and promises at a distance. 27 In fact, the extraordinary thing is not that Messenians and certain Peloponnesians should act against their own better judgement, but that you who understand for yourselves, and who hear us, your orators, telling you, that there is a design against you, and that the toils are closing round you—that you, I say, by always refusing to act at once, should be about to find (as I think you will) that you have exposed yourselves unawares to the utmost peril: so much more does the pleasure and ease of the moment weigh with you, than any advantage to be reaped at some future date.

28 In regard to the practical measures which you must take, you will, if you are wise, deliberate by yourselves[7] later. But I will at once propose an answer which you may make to-day, and which it will be consistent with your duty to have adopted.

[The answer is read.]

Now the right course, men of Athens, was to have summoned before you those who conveyed the promises[8] on the strength of which you were induced to make the Peace. 29 For I could never have brought myself to serve on the Embassy, nor, I am sure, would you have discontinued the war, had you imagined that Philip, when he had obtained peace, would act as he has acted. What we were then told was something very different from this. And there are others, too, whom you should summon. You ask whom I mean? After the Peace had been made, and I had returned from the Second Embassy, which was sent to administer the oaths, I saw how the city was being hoodwinked, and I spoke out repeatedly, protesting and forbidding you to sacrifice Thermopylae and the Phocians: 30 and the men to whom I refer were those who then said that a water-drinker[9] like myself was naturally a fractious and ill-tempered fellow; while Philip, if only he crossed the Pass, would fulfil your fondest prayers; for he would fortify Thespiae and Plataeae; he would put an end to the insolence of the Thebans; he would cut a canal through the Chersonese at his own charges, and would repay you for Amphipolis by the restoration of Euboea and Oropus. All this was said from this very platform, and I am quite sure that you remember it well, though your memory of those who injure you is but short. 31 To crown your disgrace, with nothing but these hopes in view, you resolved that this same Peace should hold good for your posterity also; so completely had you fallen under their influence. But why do I speak of all this now? why do I bid you summon these men? By Heaven, I will tell the truth without reserve, and will hold nothing back. 32 My object is not to give way to abuse, and so secure myself as good a hearing[10] as others in this place, while giving those who have come into collision with me from the first an opportunity for a further claim[11] upon Philip's money. Nor do I wish to waste time in empty words. 33 No; but I think that the plan which Philip is pursuing will some day trouble you more than the present situation does; for his design is moving towards fulfilment, and though I shrink from precise conjecture, I fear its accomplishment may even now be only too close at hand. And when the time comes when you can no longer refuse to attend to what is passing; when you no longer hear from me or from some other that it is all directed against you, but all alike see it for yourselves and know it for a certainty; then, I think, you will be angry and harsh enough. 34 And I am afraid that because your envoys have withheld from you the guilty secret of the purposes which they have been bribed to forward, those who are trying to remedy in some degree the ruin of which these men have been the instruments will fall victims to your wrath. For I observe that it is the general practice of some persons to vent their anger, not upon the guilty, but upon those who are most within their grasp. 35 While then the trouble is still to come, still in process of growth, while we can still listen to one another's words, I would remind each of you once more of what he well knows—who it was that induced you to sacrifice the Phocians and Thermopylae, the control of which gave Philip command of the road to Attica and the Peloponnesus; who it was, I say, that converted your debate about your rights and your interests abroad into a debate about the safety of your own country, and about war on your own borders—a war which will bring distress to each of us personally, when it is at our doors, but which sprang into existence on that day. 36 Had you not been misled by them, no trouble would have befallen this country. For we cannot imagine that Philip would have won victories by sea which would have enabled him to approach Attica with his fleet, or would have marched by land past Thermopylae and the Phocians; but he would either have been acting straightforwardly—keeping the Peace and remaining quiet; or else he would have found himself instantly plunged into a war no less severe than that which originally made him desirous of the Peace. 37 What I have said is sufficient by way of a reminder to you. Heaven grant that the time may not come when the truth of my words will be tested with all severity: for I at least have no desire to see any one meet with punishment, however much he may deserve his doom, if it is accompanied by danger and calamity to us all.

  1. "sympathetic". i.e. towards other Greek states, desirous of securing independence.
  2. "Alexander", &c. Alexander of Macedon was sent by Mardonius, the Persian commander, to offer Athens alliance with Persia on favourable terms. Demosthenes has confused the order of events, and speaks as if this message was brought before the battle of Salamis. The Athenians left the city twice, before the battle of Salamis and before that of Plataeae; it was after Salamis that Alexander was sent (Herod. viii. 140, &c.).
  3. "fortify Elateia". This would be a menace to Thebes (cf. Speech on the Crown, Sec.Sec. 174, 175). Elateia commands the road from Thermopylae to Thebes.
  4. "well-balanced" ([Greek: "s".phronousi".), or 'free from passion', i.e. not liable to be carried away by ambition or cupidity as the Thebans were. This is different from mere 'good sense' ([Greek: "syphronein, noun echea".). For Theban 'stupidity', see Speech on Peace, Sec. 15 (and n.).
  5. "Council of Ten" ([Greek: "dekadarchian".). It is clear that some sort of oligarchical government, nominated by Philip, is referred to; but the relation of this to the tetrarchies mentioned in the Speech on the Chersonese, Sec. 26, as established by Philip, is uncertain. These corresponded to the four tribes or divisions of Thessaly (Thessaliotis, Phthiotis, Pelasgiotis, Histiaeotis); and this is confirmed by a statement in Theopompus' forty-fourth book, to which Harpocration (s.v. [Greek: "dekadarchia".) refers. Harpocration states that Philip did not establish a decadarchy in Thessaly; and if he is right, then either (a) Demosthenes purposely used an inaccurate word, in order to suggest to the Messenians the idea of a government like that of the Councils of Ten established some sixty years before by Sparta in the towns subject to her; or (b) the text is wrong, and [Greek: "dekadarchian". is a misreading of [Greek: DARCHIAN], in which [Greek: D] was the numeral (= 4), and the whole stood for [Greek: "tetrarchian".. As to (a), it is difficult to suppose that the Messenians would not know what had happened in Thessaly so well that the innuendo would fall flat. There is no evidence that 'decadarchy' could be used simply as a synonym for 'oligarchy'. As to (b), the supposed corruption is possible; but then we are left with [Greek: "tetrarchian". where we should expect [Greek: "tetrarchias".: for there is no parallel to [Greek: "tetrarchia". (sing.) in the sense of 'a system of tetrarchies'. It is, however, quite possible that Demosthenes was thinking especially of the Thessalians of Pherae, and of the particular tetrarchy established over them: and this seems on the whole the best solution. If, on the other hand, Harpocration is wrong, the reference here may be to a Council of Ten, either established previously to the tetrarchies, and superseded by them, or else coexistent with and superior to them; in either case, since the singular is used, this decadarchy must have been a single government over the whole of Thessaly (or perhaps of the district about Pherae only), not a number of Councils, one in each city or division of Thessaly. (Theopompus' forty-fourth book probably dealt with 342 B.C., two years after the present speech, though before the Speech on the Chersonese; but we are not told that he assigned the establishment of the tetrarchies to that year.)
  6. "find yourselves slaves". lit. 'find your master.'
  7. "by yourselves". i.e. in the absence of the ambassadors from Philip and other States.
  8. "who conveyed the promises". i.e. Ctesiphon, Aristodemus, and Neoptolemus (see Speech on Embassy, Sec.Sec. 12, 94, 315, &c.): but Demosthenes has probably Aeschines also in view.
  9. "water-drinker". See Speech on Embassy, Sec. 46.
  10. "secure myself as good a hearing". Most editions accept this rendering of [Greek: "emaut". logon poi".s-o".. But though [Greek: "logon didonai". = 'grant a hearing,' and [Greek: "logon tychein". = 'get a hearing,' [Greek: "logon eaut". poiein". is strange for 'secure oneself a hearing', and the passage regularly quoted from the Speech against Aristocrates, Sec. 81, is not parallel, since [Greek: "tout".". in that passage is not a reflexive pronoun, and [Greek: "logon pepoi".ke". almost = [Greek: "logon ded".ki".. Possibly the text is corrupt, and we should either read [Greek: "psogon". (with H. Richards) or [Greek: "emautou". ('make you take as much account of me as of my opponents').
  11. "further claim". since an attack on the part of Demosthenes would incite them to make out a plausible case for Philip once more, and so earn his gratitude.